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Once an Iron... Cleveland Taylor

9 April 2020

During his four year spell at the club, winger Cleveland Taylor was one of many key components in the upward rise of Scunthorpe United.

During the coming days, we'll republish past interviews with former Iron players from our matchday programme.

He initially signed for the Iron on loan from Bolton Wanderers in January 2004 before a string of impressive performances down the flanks saw Brian Laws tie up a permanent deal for the then 20-year-old a couple of months later.

And it was a move that came at just the right time for both club and player.

“Scunthorpe were doing really well in the FA Cup at the time but the extra games had taken its toll on some of the players,” he explained.

“At one point I think they only had 14 first team players to choose from so the club were in desperate need to recruit more bodies and I wasn’t playing much at Bolton so it was an ideal move for everyone.

“The Bolton reserve team manager was good friends with Peter Beagrie so I think they’d had a word with each other and eventually I was asked if I’d like to go out on loan to Scunthorpe.

“Obviously I said yes and things went from there.”

After just shy of eight weeks on loan at United, Taylor then made his move permanent in March 2004 after impressing during his temporary period in North Lincolnshire.

“It was the right time for me to get out of Bolton because they were in the Premiership and it never really looked like I’d get the chance to feature in their first team on a regular basis,” he continued.

“Playing reserve team football is completely different to playing league football and I knew that realistically I had to drop down a couple of divisions in order to get a good string of games. 

“I remember being made to feel so welcome by everybody at Scunthorpe from day one and I’d settled in extremely well during that loan spell so it was a no brainer for me to sign permanently really.

“Obviously I knew the manager, the surroundings and all of the lads because I’d already been at the club for the past couple of months so that made it so much easier.”

Taylor was involved in two promotions during his time in claret and blue and his speed and trickery with the ball saw him establish himself as a favourite with the club’s fan base.

But the Leicester born wide man finds it hard to pinpoint just one moment of personal satisfaction that stands out from the rest.

He added: “I have a lot of good memories from my time at the club because it was a very successful period of my career.

“The 2004-2005 promotion winning season sometimes gets swept under the carpet but it shouldn’t because that was a fantastic year.

“We nearly got relegated the season before and then we got promoted so that just shows you how well we did to turn things around.

“There was also the game at Chelsea in the FA Cup during that season which was a fantastic occasion for the club, the players and the fans.

“It probably helped the club a lot financially as well but the good thing was that we didn’t let it distract us because we went back to the league and continued to do well.

“The 2006-2007 season was a fantastic year and I think the fact that none of us ever thought we’d ever go on to win the league worked in our favour.

“There were a lot of big clubs in League One at that time and we were the underdogs in almost every game we played but I think that spurred us on more than anything and we gradually got more and more confident as the season went on.”

It was an accumulation of a number of factors that contributed to the upward transformation of Scunthorpe United during Cleveland’s time as an Iron player.

And playing a big part in the history of the club is something that Taylor acknowledges with ultimate gratitude.

“Sometimes in life you take things for granted but when you get a little bit older, you start to take a wider view of things,” he added.

“Now I just think to myself ‘wow, I was a massive part of Scunthorpe United’s history’ and it’s an absolute pleasure to be able to say that.

“The amount of players that we had who went on to play at a higher level is brilliant and it shows how good the club was and the calibre of players that we had.

“There was a real family feeling to the club and that had a very positive impact on us. I still speak to the likes of Billy Sharp, Andy Keogh, Ian Baraclough and I’m really good friends with Matt Sparrow so it’s nice to still keep in contact with some of the lads.”

After 195 appearances and 15 goals for the Iron, Cleveland moved to Carlisle United near the end of the 2008 January transfer window.

But he admitted that he does still look back on his time at the club very fondly.

“We’d just been promoted to the Championship but I wasn’t really playing much so I knew that I had to look for a fresh challenge,” he explained.

“Carlisle came in for me and they were top of League One by about six points at the time so I just looked at it and thought that it would be a good move for me.

“I really enjoyed my time at Scunthorpe but professional football is a short career and I knew that I had to move on in order to progress and I did well at Carlisle on a personal level so it was the right decision.

“It’s not very often that you get the chance to play in a team as good as the one we had during my time with Scunthorpe and that’s something that I’ll always remember.”

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